In these times, it is easy to begin to lose hope.
Whether we are facing the challenges of substituting traditional summer vacations with local and backyard activities or attempting to plan for the problems of this coming school year with our children, it is easy to be discouraged during this pandemic.
Add to that the stress from significant changes in the nature and location of our work as well as in our religious participation and observances, and we realize almost every aspect of our lives has been altered.
As we turn to the scriptures and study them with our families and on an individual basis, we are often surprised that a familiar passage seems to jump from the page because it relates directly to our current situation.
We find an entirely new meaning in the words and marvel at their relevance to precisely what is happening in today’s world.
I recently read the following passage, familiar to me from many previous studies:
“Ye must press forward ... having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.” (2 Nephi 31:20, Book of Mormon)
However, this time, reading that scripture had an immediate impact. Even though an ancient prophet spoke these words, their meaning is directly applicable to each of us today.
It is our responsibility to “press forward.”
Our families, our communities, our nation, and the world need our talents and energies to solve the challenges that are before us.
We earnestly pray those in the medical, scientific and technical fields will “press forward” and create medications and methods to treat the virus and produce a safe and effective vaccine.
We congratulate our first responders and front-line medical personnel who “press forward” each day as they selflessly serve our community.
We genuinely appreciate our educators who have “pressed forward” and reworked all their teaching methods and techniques to reach and educate our students online. We thank parents, grandparents, and extended family who continue to “press forward” in raising our children, the next generation, with the ethics and values that will strengthen our society.
Having “a love of God and of all men” and women is essential, especially at this time.
People of all faiths can exercise their love of God by following the precepts of their religion. We realize through our interfaith discussions and activities that we share many of the same beliefs and principles.
We know the crucial importance of treating each other with the care and dignity that each deserves as a child of God, regardless of race or ethnicity. We are amazed at the expressions of love and care for others coming from generous citizens at all levels in our community, from sewing masks at home, to monetary donations to service organizations, to volunteering at local food pantries.
Along with the efforts of many others in our community, our church in recent months has sent tractor-trailer trucks filled with pallets of food from church warehouses in Salt Lake City to southern California locations to meet the needs of those suffering from job loss or decreased employment.
We have held four blood drives in conjunction with the American Red Cross in our local church buildings and have been amazed at the large number of donors from our community who have participated.
With “a love of God and of all men” and women, good people are striving to relieve the pain and suffering of those among us.
“Pressing forward” with “a love of God and of all men” can bring about a “perfect brightness of hope” within each of us. As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we find ourselves. (Luke 9:24, New Testament)
As we look ahead to what can be accomplished, we are reinvigorated with that “perfect brightness of hope.”
As we exercise our creativity in solving the problems at hand, we are energized and create within us “a perfect brightness of hope.” This, in turn, comes full circle and enables us to continue to “press forward” with “a love of God and of all men” and women.
This circular process enables us to move forward and solve the challenges at hand confidently. That we may do this and share this “perfect brightness of hope” with all those around us is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ.
Joseph Whitaker is the administrative and spiritual leader (president) of the Palos Verdes Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his wife, Noelle, are the parents of eight children and reside in Rancho Palos Verdes.